Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's like a little jewel you hold in your and and appreciate

So, what's with the whole banjo thing?

I've seen guys, like Pete Seeger, and John McCutcheon tell stories while plucking a banjo through out the entire thing. They take breaks and play actual music, but more it's really about creating this constant rhythm running through out the story. Brian Rohr does something similar with a drum (I recomend Brian's video, Eating Baba Yaga), and more recently, while I was doing a show, a guy showed up with a banjo. After I finished we started talking and he told me Abiyoyo while plucking the banjo through out.
I find this technique incedibly charming, and I feel like it's got an almost gem-like quality - it turns the story into a little sparkly thing, like a jewel that you can almost hold in your hand and enjoy.
I tried to do this with FMF, but it just didn't work with the rhythm of the story - at least not the way I want to tell it. But, I am a huge opera fan, especially Wagner's der Ring des Nibelungen, and Wagner uses a technique called Leit Motif.
Leit Motif is a technique where every important character or event gets its own musical theme. The most often used modern example of this is Star Wars (and when I say Star Wars, I mean the movie my people call Star Wars, but people today call "A New Hope"). Next time it's on TV, probably sometime this weekend (and it really doesn't matter when you read this), check it out, the most obvious example is what's called "Luke's Theme". There're this french horn that plays every time Luke Skywalker strikes a dramatic pose. Now that you know, you'll always notice.
So, I thought - Leit Motif that's perfect! I can play a character's theme whenever they come or go, fading out the rhythm as I start telling again, fading it up as we move on to the next event. I think it works beautifully. And, I don't need as many songs as you would think - certain chord progressions present certain moods, so many events can be covered by plucking differrent rhtythms in different chord progressions.
It's working out pretty well, and I think it has that gem-like quality I'm looking for.